Monday, 20 July 2015

Thing 5: Online Networks

What is an Online Network?

Juliette Powell (2009) illustrates a simple and straightforward definition of social media as;

a community in which individuals are somehow connected—through friendship, values, working relationships, ideas,

What examples of online networks are available for Information Professionals?

In Thing 3 we looked at LinkedIn as an example of a professional network. There are other, less formal options that don't require you to have a perfect CV or an extensive profile. In this post we will focus on two of the most popular social networks worldwide : Facebook and Twitter. 

Our first example is Facebook, which according to

  •  is the name of a social-networking service and website, launched in 2004.
  • allows you to communicate with (a person) or search for information about (a person) by using Facebook.  
Most of us are pretty familiar with Facebook by now. You probably either love it or hate it. For those of you who are not familiar with a Facebook profile page the following image outlines a few features to get you started.

What else is there to Facebook other than keeping in touch with friends?
Click to Enlarge

There are many opportunities to use Facebook in a professional way, you just need to tap into this professional community so see how it works. I am going to highlight two.

Facebook Groups

There are hundreds of library - related groups available on Facebook which you can join. Groups give you a lot more to engage with, like discussion boards, recent news & member listings which keeps you in touch with the people that interest you. They can be useful if you are looking for inspiration or advice for a library project or want to share something that you are particularly proud of. A good way to search for professional groups to network with is to check out what groups your professional connections already follow.

Here is an article from with a list of Facebook groups for Librarians to get you started.

Facebook Pages 

Facebook Pages are similar to a web-page or blog. Most businesses, organisations and Libraries have their own Facebook Page. It's a free and easy way to promote your organisiation and engage with your community. Following a Facebook Page is great way to keep up-to-date with developments in the library world. When you 'like' a Facebook page, the updates will appear in your Facebook newsfeed. Watch out for the dreaded Facebook alogrithms though. If you don't regularly 'like', 'comment' or 'share' posts from a particular Facebook Page, it will stop appearing in your newsfeed.

Bobbi Newman has an excellent article here for Facebook pages, and her blog is a wonderful read.

Our second example is Twitter.

 Twitter, I love Twitter and urge all of you to tweet, tweet, tweet.

Twitter is defined as:
  • an online social networking site, launched in 2006
  • it enables users to to send and read 140 character messages called “tweets”
  • when someone engages in sending these tweets they are known to be “tweeting”
It might seem odd that communicating in sentences the length of a text message or less could be so effective and addictive but it is. Twitter is a great way to share snippets of information, link to a blog post that you've just written, connect with other delegates at a conference or ask for advice from your peers. The trick is to follow the right people to ensure that you're twitter stream is full of tweets that you find interesting.

Sign up for a new twitter account here and follow the simple instructions on screen to create your profile.

The following image shows my personal twitter profile.
Click to Enlarge

Next step - follow some people. Here is an article from Matt Anderson about twitter Librarians to follow to get you started.

I am going to look at the following three aspects of Twitter in depth, as I find they are a really good way of getting down and dirty with Twitter.

1. Lists - Lists are an opportunity to get involved with groups of people with similar interests. You can create a list yourself or subscribe to one. They are a useful way to separate tweeters that you follow into chosen categories.

There are many Library lists on twitter. However please note: Lists are not a way to send Tweets to a select group, just to read them. We have started compiling a few lists on our own twitter account, one of which you can see here. Take a look at our twitter profile for our other lists.

Have a look at the people you follow on twitter, click into their profile and see what lists they have and subscribe!

2. Twitter chats - What is a Twitter chat I hear you say.  A twitter chat is where a a group of twitter users, so that is you, yes you, meet at a designated time, on twitter,  in order to discuss a certain topic.

As you can see from my bio, I am part of @uklibchat which is a Twitter chat held every month and we discuss certain library topics. During the chat a new question is posted every 15 mins or so (depending on the length of the chat), and tweeters respond by tweeting using a dedicated hashtag.

Check out this article for further information on how twitter chats work.

3. # - hashtags are a powerful tool for such a small icon. Adding a hashtag to your tweet means other twitter users will find your tweet if they search for that hashtag. All twitter campaigns, international events and even television programmes have their own hashtag. Hashtags are also really good to use when following a twitter chat or  an online course such as this one- #rudai23.  I have used hashtags # when doing a MOOC and it is a great way to connect with the other people on the course. Twitter chats will usually have a dedicated hashtag. If you partaking in a twitter chat always use the hashtag when tweeting so that the other participants see your response and the chat organiser can collate all the tweets in a storify afterwards.

Once you've joined twitter search for the #rudai23 hashtag to see what's been going on with the course so far.

Your tasks for this week are:

  • Join our Rudai23 Facebook Group and introduce yourself
  • Follow a Facebook Page that you like. 


  • Set up a Twitter account if you don't already have one (contact me if you need any help, via twitter @shivguinn) 
  • Follow our twitter account @rudai23
  • Send a tweet using the #rudai23 hashtag
  • Find a list you like and subscribe
Write a blog posts about your experience with Twitter or Facebook. You can chose one or both tools this week. What do you think of this new professional side of Facebook? What new people or groups have you met, would you use Facebook in a more professional way or do you still prefer the social and fun side? Connect with @mariamernagh on twitter, she's compiling a list of Rudai 23 participants.

We are having a Rudai 23 twitter chat on Sunday the 6th of September from 8.30 - 9.30, please join in.

 Further Learning

Check out our Pinterest board Online Networks for more articles on the topics covered today. 


  1. Thanks Siobhan, that's a great list of Facebook pages for librarians. Lots of resourses shared here to keep me busy for a while!

  2. Glad you liked it, I found this wonderful but the credit goes to Niamh O'Donovan for that article link!


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